6 Smart Gadgets to Automate Your Summer | Digitized House

6 Smart Gadgets to Automate Your Summer

6 Smart Gadgets to Automate Your Summer
Make your summer go more smoothly with a smart irrigation controller. The Rachio 3 is one of the best choices out there. Image: Rachio.
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Summer is closing in fast, which means warm weather, plenty of time spent outdoors, and lots of fun. But the hotter temperatures and more time at home, especially for kids, tend to boost household costs.

Thanks to modern technology—particularly smart devices—you can offset some of these costs. Many available devices can make life easier while helping improve experiences, even outdoor ones. One of the more prominent benefits of this technology is the opportunity to automate repetitive tasks.

Irrigation and watering, lighting, heating and cooling, and a variety of other activities can be automated to free up personal time and incur enhancements. Smart thermostats, for instance, can help cut down on energy consumption costs by more efficiently operating climate control systems.

Here are some of our favorite smart items for making your summer a more pleasant one.

[1] Soma Smart Shades Controller

The Soma Smart Shades kit works with your existing shades to add motorization and automation. Image: Soma.
The Soma Smart Shades kit works with your existing shades to add motorization and automation. Image: Soma.

Naturally, summertime brings a lot of light and warm air. This can put added pressure on an air conditioning or climate control system, especially if the doors and windows to a home aren’t insulated well. You can combat this problem by installing curtains—in particular, blackout curtains can eliminate incoming light. But what if you don’t want more permanent curtains blocking all that beautiful sunlight?

Blinds make another great option, particularly when they are mated with motorized blind controllers like the Soma Smart Shades. They’re equipped with smart controls, allowing you to automate their use or interact with them remotely via a mobile app. Soma’s solution is powered by a solar panel, works with both beaded chain and endless loop style blind cords, and allows you to automate your blinds “in seconds,” according to the company.

Admittedly, installing smart blind control units on all your windows will get pricey, but you can start by doing it for one or two main windows and expand over time.

[2] Rachio 3 Smart Irrigation Controller 

Among the most intelligent smart irrigation controllers, Rachio 3 is available in 8- and 16-zone versions. Image: Rachio.
Among the most intelligent smart irrigation controllers, Rachio 3 is available in 8- and 16-zone versions. Image: Rachio.

Most in-ground irrigation systems come with a simple wall-mounted controller and timer, one that is fully capable of automation and scheduling. But the beauty of smart technology is the ability to access it in new ways, particularly via mobile apps.

Rachio is the prime example here, with the third generation model being the latest. It offers simple installation, dual-band Wi-Fi support, and an expressive light bar for local notifications. Of course, you can also access the device via the companion app. Their Weather intelligence functionality means it won’t waste water if it’s raining or the forecast predicts rain. The smart irrigation controller makes more efficient use of resources to cut down on water costs.

[3] Husqvarna Automower

During the summer, grass usually grows at a much faster rate which means you have to mow your lawn more often. The question is, why do it yourself?

Smart robotic mowers work just like robotic vacuums—remember the Roomba, anyone? They are designed to operate on their own, complete the work, and then return to a charging dock. Husqvarna’s Automower does exactly this, eliminating one of the most tasking things you have to do each summer. Instead, you can sit back, relax, and sip some tea or lemonade while the auto-mower does all the work. How great is that?

If you’re not sure these robotic mowers are ready for prime time, you may want to check them out at your local Lowe’s home improvement store. We recently saw them prominently on display there, right next to conventional mowers.

[4] Thermacell Radius Zone Mosquito Repellent

Depending on where you live, insects can get pretty bad during the hot, musty months of the year. Mosquitos are especially bad, even more so these days considering all the potential diseases they carry. It’s important not just to thin the herd like bug zappers do, but instead to keep them away from you entirely.

Luckily, there is a device to deal with this problem called the Thermacell Radius Zone Mosquito Repellent. It forms a shield or invisible barrier around the vicinity and prevents mosquitoes from entering. This is a must-buy for the 80% of the US population that secretes chemicals through their skin, making them more susceptible to mosquitoes.

[5] Awair Air Quality Monitor

In its 2nd generation, the Awair air quality monitor can alert you to environmental issues inside your home. Image: Awair.
In its 2nd generation, the Awair air quality monitor can alert you to environmental issues inside your home. Image: Awair.

During the summer and winter months, people tend to seal up their homes by keeping the doors and windows shut. In summer this keeps the cool air in and the heat out, and in winter it does the exact opposite. This can lead to a decrease in your home’s air quality over time. Americans, specifically, spend about 90% of their time indoors, where pollutant concentrations can sometimes be two to five times higher than typical outdoor levels.

Smart air quality monitors like Awair can be used to continually keep watch over the air that builds up inside a home. Awair especially adds a degree of automation, allowing you to step back and receive alerts from time to time, and usually only if something is out of whack. It also offers recommendations on how to improve the air quality issues it uncovers.

Air purifiers and quality monitors also help fight off hay fever which is incredibly common during the spring and summer months.

[6] Philips Hue Smart Lighting

A staple indoors, the Philips Hue line of smart lighting has been expanded to outdoor lighting, Here, the Lily White White & Color Ambience spotlight. Image: Philips.
A staple indoors, the Philips Hue line of smart lighting has been expanded to outdoor lighting, Here, the Philips Hue Lily White & Color Ambience spotlight. Image: Philips.

Smart lighting is common indoors, but what about outdoors where the devices will face the elements? Believe it or not, there are smart lighting options for use in outdoor settings, and they work great for patio, backyard, and open areas.

The Philips Hue line has some excellent outdoor lighting options—ranging from bulbs and spotlights to bollard-style units. All of the variants are weather-proof, and “smart” which means they can be controlled remotely through a smartphone app. They even work with Alexa and Google Assistant to allow for voice controls. For example, the command ”Hey Alexa, turn on my patio lights” could be used to instantly illuminate the back yard.

Keep Your Summer Relaxing

Weekend lawn mowing plans don’t sound fun, and neither does dealing with severe allergies or itchy eyes no thanks to hay fever. But with the help of these smart devices, you can fend off common problems or household pains.

More importantly, you can automate a lot of these processes to allow yourself more free time to relax and enjoy the weather—and your family, as well.

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Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews is a technology journalist and productivity blogger. She is a senior writer for MakeUseOf and the owner and editor of her tech productivity blog, Productivity Bytes. You can read more by Kayla at Inc.com, VentureBeat, DMN, and more.
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